20 Things Adoptees Should Know

There are what seems to be millions of guidebooks out there to help folks deal with almost any circumstance that comes up in life. Hundreds of authors will help you out with what happens when you get cancer to interacting with your personal computer. Dummies are told how do to everything from motorcycle riding and bar-b-queing to handling divorces and a death in the family. There is a “What To Expect” book from conception to college. If you are looking into adoption everything from the first paperwork, to home study, to choosing an agency, to raising the child once you get it, with special emphasis of the joys of raising that child, are written of to a degree one would already have grandchildren by the time they got through it all. But one experience is sadly ignored in this pile of advice, the adoptee themselves.

If you head out to your local bookstore, the adoption section is big, but nothing is really by, for, and about,adoptees. Sure you’ll find a few books about, or even by, adoptees, mostly detailing their search and reunion, with special attention paid to there undying gratitude to their adoptive parents, and if it’s a big enough store, you may find a few scholarly tomes on the effects of adoption on adoptees. But none of these really fill a need that I feel is out there. The need for a real guide book for dealing with the fact that you were adopted. Regular day to day stuff, a survival guide, if you will.

I’m not certain I’m the person to write this, but I’m going to give it a shot. If it hasn’t been done before, there isn’t anything to judge too harshly against. I’m going to use a listing format. It’s easy, and gives me some time to come up with stuff in installments. So here goes..

20 Things Adoptees Should Know

1. There is no I in adoption.

That’s right, no I. But you say it’s right there between the t and the o, technically yes, but practically no. If the I was really there, one might think that adoption is about you, the adoptee. It is not. Adoption is about a whole lot of things, none of which are really you.

Adoption is about a need being filled. It’s not really your need. But you might say, “I needed a home.” Yes you did, but that was secondary, somebody out there needed a baby, and you happened to be available. The circumstances that lead up to your availability, and even the fact that it was you who was available, are secondary to the transaction that took place. After all if it wasn’t you, don’t you think the next baby in line would have sufficed? It is about the getting a baby, really any baby, that is at the time available to the prospective adoptive parents. You weren’t special, they didn’t choose you, there is not a baby store where they pick out the cutest one, your adoptive parents took what was given them.

Most frequently the need for a baby stems from fertility issues. That as absolutely nothing to do with you. You are the product of a distinct lack of fertility issues, in most cases. You had not a thing to do with your adoptive mother’s fibroids, or adoptive father’s low sperm count. You are not the reason they delayed childbearing or shelled out thousands of dollars for failed fertility treatments. You weren’t even conceived when this all reared it head. You were simply the cure of last resort.

At some point it was decided if they could not have a child of their own, they would adopt. You are not a child of their own, you are second choice. They settled. That is about their decision, not you. Again you were the one available when their number came up.

Some adopt because they want to save a child in need. Sure you may have been a child in need but this isn’t about you either. They weren’t thinking of you specifically, they were thinking of a conceptual child. An essentially faceless child. You just happened to be the charity project available at the time. If there had been a more needy child up for grabs, they could have just as easily picked them up.

Even those that adopt just for the fact they want to share their love with a child didn’t really have you in mind. They just wanted a child, an available child.

More to come, I have a job here you know, stay tuned.

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14 thoughts on “20 Things Adoptees Should Know

  1. The missing “I” in adoption stands for “Identity”. But you get a new one, which is why your parents may use your image as their avatar, their shield from scrutiny.

  2. I’m eager to read what else you will have on your list. I *seriously* think thay you should publish it when you are done. I don’t think I’ve seen a book yet from one adoptee to another about what you “should know”.

  3. “Even those that adopt just for the fact they want to share their love with a child didn’t really have you in mind. They just wanted a child, an available child.”

    This really struck me, Addie. The utter randomness of adoption has really been depressing me lately.

  4. Yanno… Margaret is right, can you even IMAGINE seeing something like this on the bookshelves of Barnes & Nobel? It would have to have a WARNING: MAY CAUSE RAPID FOG DISSIPATION sticker on the front cover

    Just please make sure you come to Long Island on your whirlwind coast to coast book tour so I can buy you a multitude of drinks

  5. Brilliant stuff.
    When I was told I was “chosen” from a nursery of available babies’ I was horrified.
    I kept wondering what happened to the other ones left behind.
    Then I thought (age 3) I must have been the cutest and prettiest to be chosen, how else could it work?
    So now I still have to make sure I look this way or no one will like me!!
    I realise I am not but I still must try because I might be “sent back”.
    Not literally but they might bring up the fact of how lucky I am to be where I am in my life because of them. Now those feelings “send me back”.

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